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  Django against Sartana A Meeting Of MindsBuy this film here.
Year: 1970
Director: Pasquale Squitieri
Stars: George Ardisson, Tony Kendall, José Torres, Bernard Farber, Adler Gray, Salvatore Billa, Fulvio Mingozzi, Augusto Pescarini, Mirella Pamphili, Claudio Trionfi, Teodoro Corrà, John Alvar
Genre: Western
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Django (Tony Kendall) is riding with his men to face the evildoing bandit Corvo and his men, in the hope that with them out of the way the civilisation of the East can finally take root in the West. But Corvo is lying in wait for them and as they draw near his followers open fire in an ambush; luckily Django is uninjured, so he and his remaining men take up positions in the undergrowth and shoot back until Corvo calls out for a truce. But as he and his adversary approach each other, Django does not know an assassin has been dispatched to head him off - or does he?

Of course he does, he's Django, one of the most famous gunfighters of the Spaghetti Western genre. Okay, he does have a tendency to be tortured, but that does not happen today and he eliminates the bad guys so we can get on with the meat of the story, which as the title suggests involves one popular hero encountering another, Sartana. No, he doesn't play guitar in incredible feats of noodling, that's Santana, this is the slightly less popular Spaghetti Western hero who did not get quite as many films or rip-offs to his name, but did well enough nevertheless.

In the tradition of Frankenstein meets The Wolf Man and King Kong vs. Godzilla, these two titans of their scene are pitted against each other, but as is often the case with this type of thing, we don't actually get to discover who is the best out of the two of them. They do have a fight, but it's not so much a gun battle at high noon as a scuffle in the dust - that's right, they put down their weapons to settle their differences with their fists. Naturally, that's not only a letdown but utterly inconclusive, though as they're both the good guy perhaps it's not surprising. Why are they pitted against each other? Well, it's all to do with a bloke called Steve...

Steve (John Alvar) is Django's brother, prompting one to ponder how one man got an exotic name like Django from his mother, while his sibling was simply named Steve in a disappointing lack of imagination. Couldn't he have been called Turbotron or something? Anyway, Steve is framed for a bank robbery at his place of work and as if that were not bad enough, the reason nobody noticed the bank was being broken into was that they were all at the funeral of the manager. The townsfolk wrongly believe that Steve teamed up with Sartana (George Ardisson) to commit the crime and though they cannot find the gunfighter, they do find Steve and lynch him, thus inspiring the wrath of his brother.

So there's an element of the detective story here, as Django has to work out who is really behind the plot to make his brother the fall guy, and if there's one thing we do know, it's that Sartana was not the man responsible. One brawl later, and Django is prepared to go along with that, so this is not so much the two protagonists "against" one another, and more the two "with" each other. In truth, this is pretty bog standard stuff, as it could really be anybody from Western mythology standing in for the two tough guys, the names are irrelevant. For all that lack of inspiration, there are a few lunacies to mark it out, such as the way that Sartana so closely resembles Jason King-era Peter Wyngarde, or the heavy who holsters his guns after he's been shot dead, or most notably, the theme song which proclaims Django (not Sartana) "was a friend of mine" then goes on to say "he was my father" - so which was it? Music by Piero Umiliani.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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